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Lyft enthusiasts rally to save LA rideshares

July 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Smartphone apps used to request rides have risen in popularity all across the Southland. But they're also attracting a lot of controversy. Supporters of the rideshare company Lyft rallied Tuesday night to try to keep the company alive in Los Angeles.

You may have seen cars around town sporting a pink mustache. The drivers are part of Lyft, a new way to get around the Southland. An app on your smartphone will send a driver to pick you up. It's become a cheaper alternative to calling a cab.

Lyft drivers and passengers gathered to rally their base now that the city of Los Angeles has ordered the company to cease and desist. The city says Lyft and other rideshare companies like Sidecar and Uber are operating as unlicensed taxis.

But Lyft co-founder John Zimmer says they've gone through a set of regulations with the California Public Utilities Commission. Drivers have to pass criminal background and DMV checks, and must be insured.

"We have a million-dollar-per-driver per-occurrence policy," said Zimmer. "So the second someone is approved on the platform, they're added to that million-dollar policy per occurrence, per driver."

Cab companies like United Independent say the rideshare smartphone apps are cutting into their business. Taxi drivers say in order for them to operate, they have to play by the rules, while these new companies don't.

"We pay franchise fees, we pay enforcement fees, we pay actual insurance fees, which the other companies do not have to pay at this point," said cab driver Michael Giles.

Lyft drivers and passengers say it's not only a means of transportation, but Lyft is becoming a community. And in a place as spread out as L.A., it can be faster and more affordable than taking a taxi.

"It's a perfect example of how technology and data and social networking can come together to cause improvements in real space, in the real world, and so far, they've done that, and I'd like to see them continue," said Lyft passenger Rob Dearborn.

Lyft supporters intend to make their case before the next L.A. City Council meeting.


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